You Are What You Eat, and So Is Your Dog

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I wouldn’t call myself a health nut, but I do believe in eating whole foods that retain their nutritional value and are not processed.  I am definitely not militant about this, but I try not to eat foods with preservatives or pre-made/pre-packaged foods.  I really believe that what we eat affects not just our outward appearance, but also our inner health and well being.  I have extended these beliefs to my dog’s nutrition as well, and have been preparing his food from scratch since he was about 12 weeks old. I’d like to share my recipe with you. If you are interested in cooking for your dog, give it a try!

Many people tease me about cooking for my dog and say that Snickers is spoiled, but providing my pup with proper nutrition free of preservatives and byproducts is my main priority.  I did quite a bit of research online and by talking to several veterinarians prior to settling on the “right” recipe for Snickers’ food.

fluffy chihuahua standing on a table

Here is the little angel.

Although your dog may be the most gentle and sweet pup, he is still a descendant of the wolf and retains his carnivorous physiology.  The best source of amino acids for dogs is animal protein from meat, though dogs can consume and metabolize proteins from vegetables and grains.  A general rule is that a dog requires about 1 ounce of high quality protein per two pounds of body weight per day. Component amino acids from protein are used for bones, muscles and tissues, and since puppies are still growing, they require a higher percentage of these amino acids than adult dogs.  A puppy’s diet should contain about 28% protein while an adult dog’s diet only needs to contain about 18% protein.

Based on these numbers and the research I had conducted, I decided to create a stew for Snickers that incorporated meat proteins, some whole grains and some vegetables.  I usually use ground turkey for the meat, but sometimes I switch it out to beef or chicken or a combination of the three.


3 lbs ground turkey (I use the 15% fat / 85% lean turkey)

3 large yams

¾ to 1 cup of steel cut oats (I usually eyeball this)

1 lb spinach (fresh or frozen)

1 lb green peas (fresh or frozen)

ingredients for homemade dog food

The ingredients.

Step 1:

Wash the yams well and chop them into medium sized chunks (the smaller the chunks the faster the stew will be ready).

Step 2:

Using a large non-stick pot, place the yams in the pot and cover with enough water to have about two inches of water over the yams.

yams cooking in a pot

Steps 1,2 & 3.

Step 3:

Bring water and yams to a boil (uncovered) and continue to let yams boil until they start to become soft.

Step 4:

Once the yams start to become soft, add the steel cut oats.  Let yams and oats cook for about 20 more minutes.

adding steel cut oats to boiling yams

Step 4

Step 5:

Once the yams and oats are practically cooked, add in the turkey.  Mix in the turkey with the yams and oats until all of the turkey is covered and starts to cook. Let the turkey cook for about five minutes.

adding turkey to homemade dog food

Step 5.

Step 6:

Add in the peas and spinach and mix well. The spinach and peas should cook very quickly and you do not want to overcook them because then they start to lose their nutritional value.

homemade dog food

Step 6.

Step 7:

Cool and serve!  I like to portion out the stew into several containers and freeze all but one so that the stew is fresh each time I serve it to Snickers.

homemade dog food

Finished! Once it’s cooled, it’s ready to serve!

I usually give Snickers about a cup of stew in the morning and a cup of stew in the evening.  Snickers weighs about 15 pounds, so he doesn’t need much food.  I usually make this batch of stew every two weeks.  Snickers has only been fed homemade food since he was about 12 weeks old and has been very healthy.  He never smells (even after a month of not bathing), does not have any itching or allergies and appears to truly enjoy meal time, everytime!  For treats he usually gets little pieces of broccoli, peas or cheese.  The only time I ever give him actual dog treats is when I’m training him to do new tricks.  His teeth get continuous compliments as does his fur coat.  I really believe that having a whole foods diet is contributing to his well-being, both inside and out.

chihuahua eats out of a white bowl


I’d love to hear any recommendations for additional dog food recipes. Please comment below with any recipes!


105 Responses

  1. Kendra says:

    My six month old black lab started having gi issues a few weeks after we got her, and making her food is the only thing that helped. She is about 25 pounds now, so I am wondering how much of this I should feed her and (about) how many calories it is per serving?

  2. Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have a 6 month old chocolate lab and have been making her food for a couple months now. Her fur is so shiny and soft and her teeth are unbelievably white, never bad breath! Homemade food is the only way to go! I heard dogs should live into their 20s but because we feed them so poorly with commercial kibble, they don’t have a chance. My goal is to get my baby girl well into her 20s too and this recipe will help me switch it up a bit. Thanks so much!!

    • Kendra says:

      how much do you feed her of this? I have a six month old 25 lb black lab and I want to make sure she is getting enough.

    • Estelle W. says:

      Hi Kendra: Please consult with your vet when changing your pet’s diet. Puppies and young dogs especially may have different nutritional requirements.

  3. Mary Kondrath says:

    Does anyone have experience with using the U-Stew supplement for cooked dog food? I am planning to order the “trial size” of this product as I am beginning to cook for our six-year old Welsh Terrier, Winston. The website for the Canadian company is I am very excited to begin doing this, but just wondering if anyone has had any personal experience using this product. Thanks very much for any help or insight anyone can give!

  4. Nancy says:

    I just came upon this website and I’m excited to try this for my dog. My dog is a black flat coated retriever and has long hair. She has allergies and gets yeast in her ears frequently. I’ve been buying her expensive grain free food and giving her Benadryl everyday along with Coconut Oil in her food. Would this recipe be ok for her to eat? Do you think I would still need allergy meds along with this? Thanks in advance!

    • Estelle W. says:

      Hi Nancy: Please check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet. Allergies can be very tricky.

  5. tatyana says:

    What supplements do you feed your dog? From just the recipe above, your dog is missing a large portion of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. You can go to and plug in your recipe and see what is missing in your recipe. I am currently working with a Vet nutritionist who pointed out that dogs cannot absorb sufficient nutrients, minerals and vitamins from fruits and veggies alone. You should really look into that, even though what you are doing is great, I’m worried it is not enough and can be dangerous.

  6. sherell says:

    I thank that that is a good recipe for a dog to cook at home and is healthy I would like and I have to try it out one day for my dog Max

  7. diane says:

    Oh by the way, my dogs love it, I have three little Yorkies.

  8. diane says:

    Since it’s so juicy do they need a little more, I worry they might not get enough protein.

  9. Judith Anne Smythe says:

    Great information.I will try the stew fir my allergic Frenchie.
    Snickers is darling.. ? Breed – Such a sweet face!!

  10. Joanne Yinger says:

    I was a little thrown off by the recommended 1 oz. quality protein per 2 pounds of the dog’s weight in the beginning of your article. My dog is 62 lbs. Does that mean 31 oz. of protein (whether sourced from meat or vegetable)? Some of the trainers I take classes from (perhaps all of them) been raw diets to their dogs. How do you feel about that approach?

    • Estelle W. says:

      Hi Joanne: I would recommend running any dietary change by your vet. Your vet is going to be the best authority on what type of nutrition is best for your dog based on your dog’s size, breed, lifestyle and life stage. Thanks for writing in!

  11. Sarah says:

    Was excited to try this as I have a senior dog that can sometimes be finicky and really needs to eat a healthy meal. Unfortunately he was not crazy about this :( I’m going to try it again tomorrow and see if he might go for it. Our other dog seemed to like it.

  12. Kayla says:

    Hi I would really like to try this recipe! But I would like to use fish instead because I am afraid my dog has a food intolerance to chicken protein. How would you recommend cooking and adding the fish? Also, do you have suggestion on the type of fish?

    Thank you!

  13. NF says:

    These are all great suggestions and recipes. Thanks. I’ve been sharing my paleo meals with my dogs lately (vet approved), adding more grains than I am allowed to eat. I add a small amount of high end kibble and my dogs love it. And a couple of them have already lost some weight(again, vet recommended). I buy markdown everything(meat, veggies, some fruit), throw it all in a crockpot and have food that lasts several days. I have five dogs ranging from 10# to 60#. They are doing very well on this kind of food. I also throw leftovers in the pot, watching fat, spice/salt and certain vegetable content(some veggies/fruits are poisonous or not digestible for dogs, can make them really ill).
    When I was small, we had German Shepherds and every weekend, my dad got out a huge stockpot and cooked up all sorts of leftovers, meats and vegetables(much to my mom’s horror that dog food was being cooked in her kitchen, lol). The dogs did very well so I’ve carried on the tradition.

  14. Mary Arthur a Starling says:

    i have a 4 1/2 lb. chihuahua that I cook for. I basically use the same things you use but add apples, blue berries and cantaloupe to her meals when I serve it up. Not a lot but one fruit gets added to the side as a treat. I use all organic meat, turkey, chicken, veggies and fruits. I mix in the raw meat to the cooked veggies and oats when I am making up my 2 oz. patties. Wrapping in foil and freezing individually. Keep them in a plastic container and take out 2 each night in put in fridge. to thaw for the next day. She takes liquid vitamins so I add the drops in her food. She is 3 and maintains her weight well.

  15. Merita says:

    Thanks for sharing. I haven’t started cooking for my Aussie yet but I’ve been interested and trying to learn to do so. My Aussie is allergic to grain so I try to stick away from that and a lot of recipes I look at typically have some kind of grain in it.
    About your recipe, when u cook the ground turkey for about 5 min only does it cool fully or is it still raw?

  16. Marj says:

    Thank you so very much for the Snicker’s Stew Recipe. I just found this site and made the stew this morning. Bonnie ( Maltipoo ) liked it alot ; however I may have put too much spinach in it and she got abit of an upset stomach.
    I am new to Homecooking for my pets but glad to ‘ be onboard this site ‘.
    I have two indoor cats that I am preparing meals for and wondering if any of you have any recommendations of a good site for ” Kitty Platters “. I would really appreciate knowing … that would be great.
    I want to share that Bonnie had an allergic reaction to food last night and was extremely itchy.
    I wet her down first and then I dissolved 1/2 cup epsom salts in 2 gallons of tepid water and poured it over her little body. She was TOTALLY relieved and slept like ‘ A little log ‘ beside me all night.
    I wish you all well with your Home Cooking for Your Furry Pals. I hope to come up with some inventions to pass along.
    I look very forward to reading your ideas and discoveries.
    Happy Trails …

  17. Conny says:

    I’ve been using this recipe for a few months now and my 1 1/2 yr Moodle loves it! I alternate the meats and veggies, sometimes add a little organ meat, broccoli, carrots or green beans or pumpkin, but stay true to the percent of protein/veggies/starches. A handful of brown rice is also nice. For extra calcium, I like to add a pinch of ground eggshell. And purely for taste I like a pinch of italian herbs.
    This recipe produces a lot, so after cooling entirely, I portion it off to about 1 week’s supply and freeze. Then thaw it out into a mason jar and we’re good to go :)
    He gets 1/2 of this and 1/2 orijen kibble, just because I’m new to dog nutrition and want to insure he gets all he needs. So far he’s happy and super healthy. Thanks for posting this recipe, it’s definitly his favorite food!